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Is There Any Real Difference Between a Manager And a Leader?

 

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On the face of it, no. Both lead others, motivate others and encourage others. However, there are definite distinctions between the two labels, though they both relate to one person interacting with others in an unequal capacity.

In simple terms, a manager is for the practical side of leadership, monitoring and ensuring delivery from all sides: product, policy and objectives, and is most likely to be in a chain of command with someone above him/her. He may or may not inspire his staff and she does not necessarily have to motivate her team either.However, he might not have the respect of staff and she might even be denied her authority by those with dubious intentions. A manager is there primarily to ensure compliance with senior management and company requirements - essentially, a bridge between management and staff.

On the other hand, a leader is mostly inspirational with outstanding motivational skills. He/she is likely to be respected, admired, supported and liked. A true leader is at the forefront of other men and women, with authority stemming from their ability to persuade, invigorate and enable. Leaders tend to emerge from a group or community, and seldom answer or report to anyone else, while managers are mainly appointed. The very fact that they are able to convince others of the necessity of their position ensures their credibility and authority. Leaders tend to represent the group/community they lead while managers represent the business or company that employs them.

Managers are usually hands-on supervisors, people put in charge of others, or to bring specific projects to life, ensuring they are maintained and progressed. While they can be motivational too, the very nature of their job, to ensure productivity and delivery and adherence to policy, and the fact that their authority comes from their employers or worker consensus, mean that they do not have the automatic respect that powerful leaders often command. In effect, managers manage, while leaders lead. Though it sounds a trite definition, two major things separate a leader from a manager: they are passion and communication.


Functional rather Than Persuasive
Managers do not have to be passionate about their job. And though they have to communicate as well, the type of communication they do tends to be directive and functional rather than persuasive. Managers are simply fulfilling the role they are paid to do. If they are truly passionate about their job and they can also communicate clearly, and with effect, they will be that much better at their job. But they are primarily there to organise, direct, monitor and encourage in order to get results. Their authority is already vested in them by the management and the status of 'manager'. It will be respected by all the workers until that manager proves him/herself to be ineffective.

For leaders, the specific results are not the important thing. Motivating others and encouraging them to see the position and possibilities for themselves are the primary aims. Passion and communication are thus at the heart of the effective leader's objectives, the primary tools they carry, and will define their effectiveness and popularity. A leader is more detached from the group, often alone in their thinking, and they have to use the passion they feel for an issue or an idea to gain support from others. Most important, they have to communicate that passion well, to enable others to share their perspectives, and perception, in order to join with them. Thus their own authority and credibility stand or fall on their ability to transmit their message in a persuasive, motivational and inspirational manner, usually across a panoramic expanse. They are judged by their followers and when the followers cease to believe in them and to support them, a new leader will emerge.

In a nutshell, the manager's role is already established for him/her by virtue of their title and duties. A leader's role is usually more diffused and has to be proven. It is never automatic. He/she naturally emerges from a crowd according to personal skills in persuading, convincing and being able to lead others into new territories they might not wish to go, but who is likely to have the charisma, the power and their unwavering trust to do just that.




Are Good Leaders Born or Made?

 

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The question has been asked time and time again: Are good leaders naturally 'born', or do they have to be taught?

Astrologers promote the idea of leaders tending to cluster in certain signs of the zodiac. For example Arians (the Ram) are supposed to be 'natural' leaders and Leo (the Lion), being of kingly nature, is foremost among equals. Whether we subscribe to this extra-terrestrial notion of leadership or not, one fact cannot be ignored: some people, like the new President, find it much easier to be 'bossy', to persuade or to affect people's reactions than others.

Anyone of us can be a worker, but fewer people – for whatever reasons – emerge as leaders. This is because leadership may be assumed but the authority, the power behind it, has to be granted. It can only be taken by force in a dictatorship. The other essential ingredient is a genuine liking for people and the ability to get on with them, even in the most stressful circumstances, so that respect becomes automatic. We have to want to take people with us; to see their point of view; to be ready with support; to listen, to advise, to encourage and to influence. Notice there is nothing said about directing, criticising, assessing or decision-making. These are skills that are developed over time as we adapt to our surroundings and responsibilities. They should automatically follow if the crucial task of communicating is being fulfilled.

Communicating Effectively
Simply through good communication and trust we can have significant influence on what others do. The art of being a good manager is gentle positive persuasion, not negative coercion. Once there is the capacity to accommodate others with mutual respect, especially in a diverse environment, we are well on our way to leading them. People will always gravitate and honour those who show them respect and love. The best leaders are also those who seek to serve. If we find it hard to accept the opinions, directions or contributions of colleagues or superiors, we won't make good managers either. When we readily find fault with other leaders without allowing them slack, it says far more about our own insecurities relating to management than the manager in question. It is our confidence, compassion and capability in dealing with people and getting things done which separate us from everyone else.

A lack of confidence in those who lead manifests itself clearly in three main approaches:


a. A desire to be liked (poor sense of belonging) which encourages familiarity and inconsistency;


b. Persistent self-doubt about personal abilities (low self-esteem) which encourages needless formality and makes the person isolated and unapproachable
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c. A feeling of insecurity (poor sense of achievement) which overrates personal competence and thrives on suspicion and dominance, while undermining the contributions of others.

From these aspects, it appears that great leaders are made because there is a lot to learn about interacting positively with others, a key part of our social training. However, true leadership begins inside of us with self-love, the self-assurance in who we are and the knowledge of what we want and where we are heading. Without those three personal attributes we would find it difficult to impact on others let alone influence, lead or inspire, them to greater heights.






The Key Functions of Managers in Organisations

 

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In the simplest explanation, managers are key bridges within organisations. They are the essential link between senior executives and the other employees and, as such, they play a pivotal role in the smooth running of any establishment. They are the gatekeepers and guardians of corporate ethos and reputation. Under this essential bridge umbrella they play three key roles: interpersonal, informational and decision making.

Interpersonal
Managers have to liaise with all sections of the workforce to execute their jobs efficiently. It is their primary task to ensure their capability in managing others delivers the objectives for the business or corporation. Considerable people skills are always required in managerial roles. Routine liaison between individuals and teams to ensure a cohesive whole is usually at the heart of good management. Ensuring task allocation for staff and the efficient execution of those tasks would be important duties of any frontline manager.

Informational
The manager is, first and foremost, a disseminator of information. He/She is the main spokesperson within a department or business. The primary role of the manager is to ensure smooth and effective communication every step of the way, especially in larger establishments where the message can easily get lost within and between departments. It is his/her role to ensure that teams are working cohesively for a common goal, individuals are fully aware of their tasks and responsibilities and there is general oversight and awareness of the workings of all the disparate elements involved. Controlling information in ways which can be used to achieve corporate objectives is a key managerial task, both in giving directives and monitoring their progress.

Decision Making
This is the most important role of the manager which stems from the authority invested in him/her by the employers. Roles that are at the forefront of the decision making process involve being a negotiator, especially in tricky situations where conflict resolution is required, and being a resource allocator: having the power to allocate resources where they see fit. However, this can often be a cause of resentment or jealousy, especially among staff who do not feel they have been fairly distributed. It is also a major managerial task to grow the business through ensuring entrepreneurial objectives are achieved (delivering an effective service in public organisations) and many managers soon find that their own position in the organisation hinges on the successful growth of it.

Within those three major roles, managers are expected to lead staff, plan strategy and outcomes, organise resources and work roles, as well as identifying the efficient ways to get the most beneficial results. Finally, they are responsible for co-ordinating and controlling the processes by which the desired outcomes can ultimately be realised.




The Difference Between Rank And Power in Management

 

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Professional power is not so easy to get and keep because it isn't really understood. Too many of us confuse status/rank at work with power but, while they are closely linked, status is acquired while power has to be given through authority, and many people are not aware of this subtle difference. Many managers, particularly new ones, suffer an initial lack of confidence because they have status with no actual power. They tend to be sensitive about their colleagues' perception of them and find it difficult to lose the desire for approval.

The newly appointed director of a company immediately acquires the status and trappings of being a key member of the hierarchy. Any respect given will be based upon that fact and little else. He/She has no real power. The newcomer will be acknowledged simply as a director until everyone is satisfied that this person can actually do the job, and is also the right one for it. When that is proven through actions, authority will be automatically granted and with that comes the power to influence and control the activities under their remit.

The limits of such power is evident in the following two scenarios.
a. Unpopular managers who have the authority of their superiors but not of their subordinates could experience real problems because it is the workforce that makes or breaks a company. Leaders can plan strategy, motivate staff, harness resources and set objectives as much as they wish to, but if workers won't play the game, they will only achieve half as much.

b. On the other hand, employees may regard a particular individual as de facto leader because of personal charisma, competence and personality but if she/he does not have the support of the management, they will be bypassed and undermined at every turn by superiors. True power at work thus comes from being given the authority to get on with the job by BOTH superiors and subordinates.

The worst damage to professional confidence usually comes from colleagues who deny the status of others and refuse to give them the authority they should have. Managers in unrewarding managerial positions, who cannot understand why they do not have the support of their staff, sometimes compensate for this loss of power by foolishly pulling rank (like reminding staff of their position) which only makes matters worse. This is because power in the workplace is a negotiated commodity. That person's authority has to be accepted by everyone it relates to before power is affirmed.

Thus true power ultimately comes from being granted the recognition of one's status and the respect due by everyone involved. This usually carries with it the necessary authority to influence others and to make all the required decisions and cannot be taken, otherwise it will always be superficial and vulnerable to resistance.






The Biggest Single Issue When Promoting Managers

 

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According to a popular handbook for managers, a good manager motivates others by "encouraging ambition, the desire to achieve and a wish to contribute to the collective good of the business". Then it provides a list of qualities regarded as important to this role (like being decisive, setting high standards and defining responsibility). No doubt, all these are useful pre-requisites for leading others, but concentrating on just those qualities assume that all managers start from the same point with the same perspectives.

In fact, what affects our capacity for effective leadership is our reason for seeking that particular promotion or position; our perception of ourself; our perception of our colleagues and the confidence we possess. Being 'decisive' is all well and good, but if we are slow to act on that decision because we fear the consequences or doubt our ability to execute it effectively, we cannot inspire confidence in others. Merely telling ourself to be more decisive is meaningless unless the capability is there to fulfil that requirement.

Again, to be able to encourage others to achieve their ambition we would need to believe in ourself first because that belief will help us to trust others, delegate to them and push them along. Leaders fail to act effectively not because they are necessarily incompetent but because their own esteem and confidence are low and their expertise in people management is inadequate. In such instances they cannot appreciate others, their aspirations and their fallibility, or motivate them efficiently. In fact, at such times they will do their utmost to prevent others from shining above them, which eventually becomes counter-productive because it robs the organisation of available talent and outstanding performance.


Wrong Reasons for Promotion
This is not so surprising when we consider how the majority of all leaders are promoted. Most are not given more responsibility because they can manage people effectively, but because they have probably helped to boost profits through their efforts with products, or they managed to attract the eye of the 'right' person or have simply been competent at their job (as in teaching). Often it is not the people who are independent in thought, willing to take risks, those who welcome change or can take others with them who are promoted. It is more likely to be people who are good with products and resources, the ones who toe the line, conform to expectations and who are specially favoured for obscure and questionable reasons.

Like the manager who spent most of the time in his office on his computer, leaving all the work to his deputies, only meeting with them when he had something to be critical about. He lacked the confidence to motivate his team and thought he was being effective by being detached from his staff and concentrating on other aspects of the establishment he deemed more important. But this did very little for boosting staff morale or confidence. He probably would have been excellent in an administrative desk job, which did not depend so heavily on human resources. Yet, because of his qualifications, former experience, contacts and background, he was seen as an 'automatic' choice to lead people. But it became increasingly clear that his skills were deficient in this area.

So the biggest single issue with management promotion is promoting staff who feel more comfortable at their desks than interacting with others confidently. Those who lack of empathy with others and having the confidence to take staff with them. Having an office and a title does not automatically make one a leader. The confidence in our ability to motivate colleagues and to generate excellence is even more important. It is this lack of assurance and a real misunderstanding of what the role entails which tend to lead to poor management, lower productivity, less loyalty and general apathy. An organisation is only as good as its managers who are only as good as their capacity to motivate, encourage, appreciate and inspire.




Why Are Some Managers so Defensive in Handling Feedback?

 

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Many managers can't handle feedback for a variety of reasons, and the six main ones are the following:

1. They believe that, being a manager, their actions are above reproach. For example, many feel they have the authority to criticise others but not in reverse.

2. They are likely to feel a loss of face in their position; perhaps having to revise their own view of themselves: that they really are not as good as they thought. This is often a very painful process because it is centred around their beliefs and beliefs are the foundation of personal identity.

3. Confidence and expertise. People who lack confidence and self-esteem, and who are still training, are more likely to see any feedback as a criticism no matter how positive it might be. Hence they would see the need to explain and defend to make themselves feel better or to refute what they might see as unjust. For those with low self-esteem, feedback is likely to confirm what they thought of themselves in the first place, i:e that they are not worthy!

4. A lack of understanding regarding social interactions. No interaction is ever motiveless or innocent, even for the person giving the feedback. The interaction between any two people, no matter how well meaning, is always dictated by a number of crucial factors:

a. the status (who is perceived to have the power),
b. culture (whether dominant or minority),

c. agenda (what each is covertly seeking),

d. expectations (expressed aspirations) and

f. confidence of the parties involved.

5. Gender (whether males, females or mixed), especially if the feedback is being given by a woman to a man. The gender factor is often one of the most emotionally fraught interactions for both parties because of the ingrained perception of power among the genders: who have it, the tradition of male authority and the desire for women assessors to prove themselves equally competent and able (which might even appear as arrogant, especially if the women involved are lacking in confidence themselves!)

Thus often the perceived defensiveness is not because of the feedback, per se, but the discomfort of the genders in trying to assume position and authority in the face of traditional male dominated culture as well as men trying emotionally to get used to the new order. Difficult times for some.

All these factors account for why such interactions are always prone to problems no matter how sensitively they might be handled. It all depends on the PERCEPTIONS of the parties, the most powerful force operating between them

6. Finally, the problem with many instances of feedback is that they are likely to be given when things are not going too well instead of regularly for both praiseworthy and inappropriate behaviour. Staff then come to resent and dread them, even when they are positive, because they are ad hoc and tend to be context/appraisal specific instead of geared around their continuous professional development, appreciation and value. Throw in personality differences between the parties, where there is clear dislike of any kind, and it becomes a battle of wills and one-upmanship instead any meaningful learning opportunity!!






When a subordinate sees you more as a friend than a boss, is it a sign of good or bad leadership?

 

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It is a sign of both good leadership and bad.

GOOD: It shows that the boss is doing something right. The employee feels trusting and confident enough in the boss to feel comfortable with him/her; the employee is likely to be more motivated; communication between the two would be more fluent; it would be easier for the boss to influence the worker and to achieve goals and it could make for a more enjoyable working atmosphere, depending on how this friendship is perceived by other members of staff.

BAD: It could also mean that the boss is being too friendly. Yet a boss is NOT a friend of a worker. He/she is the person in charge; the first line of authority, the one responsible for setting the standards, maintaining focus and direction, staff discipline, nurturing and developing talent and, most important, achieving organisational objectives.

Managers are not there to be liked. They are there to be fair, just, and inclusive. It follows that, to be executed efficiently, the role of the manager has to be a detached, often lonely, one to avoid the perception of favouritism and giving mixed messages. If a boss feels like a 'friend' to anyone, sooner or later he/she will be expected to do 'friendly' things towards that member of staff. When they are not forthcoming it leads to resentment, low morale and a breakdown in authority: a situation which then becomes entirely counter-productive.

This is because any kind of friendship is a prelude to familiarity. Once that natural boundary between staff and manager is crossed, it becomes dangerous territory for achieving objectives and maintaining the right morale. That familiarity immediately sets up expectations which, if not fulfilled, could lead to a rather caustic, divisive and resentful atmosphere, one that alters the perception of fair play and impartiality that is so necessary to good management. This would ultimately interfere with intended objectives as the business of the workplace is gradually compromised in order to maintain such a 'friendship'.

There is no harm at all in a manager being approachable, warm and empathetic with staff, if it helps for a better and more productive working environment. But the manager is not there to be a friend. He/she is there to do their job to the best of their ability, which will always involve unpopular actions and decisions, and that has to be borne in mind as the foremost priority when dealing with other members of staff.




What are the five main roles of a manager?

 

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There are many roles a manager has but some of them are more crucial than others in enabling both a satisfied workforce and the expected objectives.

For me they would have to be the following:

1. Setting Standards and Direction

2. Communicating clearly and regularly

3. Monitoring objectives

4. Reinforcing and Affirming staff

5. Training and Developing

The first three elements deal with the organisation's requirements by defining lines of responsibility and accountability, setting the standards for professional behaviour and the direction of the team, while monitoring the path to achieving the stated goals through regular review of activities and feedback on progress.

The last two pointers deal with the staff and their needs. A satisfied staff with good leadership which is also focused on their efforts and development will produce and achieve much more than a total focus on the organisation. This is the necessary equation that is often overlooked, or not realised, by managers: that the staff are as important as the objectives. Often managers concentrate on training and raising awareness about the organisations goals but completely ignore the affirmation and reinforcement aspects through individual attention, appreciation and recognition.

A focus on the role of the staff, as well as on the business, will deliver the objectives because staff are more likely to feel a part of the process feel a part of the process; that they are being listened to, are being valued and included. Gradually they are also likely to feel an alignment with the objectives through their own sense of empowerment, enough to take ownership of their individual responsibilities to achieve required objectives.






Are there really 'useless' workers?

 

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No one is ever 'useless', per se, no matter how bad they are at their job. One thing people tend to forget about their life is that they are ALWAYS learning, no matter what age they are at. We 'fail', 'underperform' or hit roadblocks when we are unable to utilise that learning or to process it efficiently because one, or more, of six key elements are likely to be missing:

1. Self-belief and faith

2. Personal confidence and assurance

3. Maturity to deal with the occasion

4. Necessary information and knowledge.

5. Motivation and training

6. Essential time and resources

The first three elements are internal, stemming from our own fears, insecurities and rate of emotional growth. The next three are external, but these are always governed by the internal causes which tend to have a knock-on effect on them. If we have little self belief, low confidence and lack the necessary maturity for the task, it will not motivate us to get the necessary information or training (we'd be fearful of how we might look or be assessed), neither will that encourage others to give us the time and resources we need which would make the situation gradually worse.

It means that if we fail anything we are really NOT ready for it (for whatever reason), we did not give it the due attention it deserved or it is the wrong area or profession for us. For example, if we took an exam at 16 years old and failed it but passed it at 18 years old it shows that we lacked the maturity, information and confidence to pass it on the first attempt. We just needed to be more mature and knowledgeable about the subject matter and handling the tension.

As regards our jobs, when we are doing the right things which fire our imagination and make us feel alive, we never 'fail' them because they become an integral part of us. We soar to the skies when we are dealing with anything we love and are prepared for. Obstacles come when we force ourselves to do something against our nature, when we are doing it for questionable motives (like merely earning a salary or seeking approval), when we believe we are inadequate and not as good as colleagues, or are doing it for the wrong reasons which then kill personal motivation.

Once we have the confidence, belief, motivation, information and training in the field we choose there really is no stopping us. We will be reinforced and affirmed by our efforts which gradually increase our competence and self worth and expectations even more.

So there is no such thing as 'useless' staff. Staff who are perceived that way are either in the wrong place at the wrong time, are lacking confidence in themselves to further their development, or are simply being managed badly so that their individual needs are ignored or overlooked.




How can training be made a meaningful learning experience, yet adaptable to the diversity of needs

 

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The short answer is that you cannot do so, especially in a larger organisations, because of the diversity in staff status and positions, and the variety in functions, roles and expectations. However, if one addresses the various strands of this question, there might be possibilities.

First of all, to make anything 'meaningful' to someone it has to have RELEVANCE to them: either personal, professional or developmental. Wherever training has relevance to either the present or future in one of those key areas, the training will be more sought after and valued. Hence training will either have to focus on the personal aspect (emphasising desired attributes like how to be successful, an achiever, more assertive, more competent or whatever), the professional aspect (relating to improving one's job functions) and the developmental aspect (which focuses on promotion, personal enhancement and advancement, changing career etc). In short, on anything that leads to better understanding of the self, one's job or one's future.

For those reasons any one course, seminar or workshop cannot be applied, or even adapted, across the board. It would be like giving the same reading book to different ages of children without taking into account their age, ability or maturity. There would be lots of resentment and disappointment because it would suit some and not others, thus disappointing the expectations and ultimately defeating the objectives.

Training has to be specific and tailor-made to be really worthwhile and useful. One size definitely won't fit all. Even training that can be applied on the general personal level: like how to boost confidence, improve communication or interview skills, for example, still has to be customised according to the level of the staff being trained because the needs of new recruits in those areas would be quite different from those of senior managers.

So to answer your question, the training must be relevant for each person but, to make it adaptable is trickier because its content will really depend on the specific needs the training is addressing and the groups of employees who will be benefiting.




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Five easy ways to motivate employees without spending money

 

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The one thing any human being wishes for, no matter where he/she is, is to be valued and appreciated, and being at work is no exception. Money is one motivation for working, but it is not the main motivation. Progress at work is the real encouragement and represents one of the highest forms of achievement in one's life. Money is a vehicle to a better quality of life, but if there is no clear personal value or appreciation, workers become demoralised through simple neglect and tend to vote with their feet.

There are many ways to motivate employees and most of them have little to do with money. The five best ones are listed below.

1. Thank each employee personally at least once each month, or at least each quarter. Personal thanks emphasise the value of the person to the company, it gives opportunity for praise, especially where the employee's input has been instrumental in recent company success, and allows management to interact on a meaningful level with their workers. This also gets rid of the isolated feeling employees often have of being just smalls cog in a big machine. Above all, it offers regular recognition and becomes separate from any performance review.

2. Select 'employees of the month' for various aspects of the job. Employees love to be recognised in this way because they know whatever they are doing is being appreciated. The constant competition also tends to keep workers on their toes which indirectly lifts the quality of the performance, the ultimate service to users and the reputation of the company.

3. Make a note of their birthdays and send a special present or surprise bouquet to every worker on their day. This not only highlights how significantly they are treated, but it would motivate them to appreciate their establishment even more. Encourage them to talk about any personal successes so that colleagues and management can celebrate with them.

4. Adopt flexible hours which would allow the workers who are recognised to be contributing the most to get occasional free time off - a half day here and there. This would have the effect of helping to boost production even more as staff try to complete tasks more efficiently to gain more free time.

5. Be open and transparent with employees so that they are aware of how the business is doing, their contribution to its success and how much they are valued in the process. Above all, PRAISE as often as possible and criticise sparingly. People are often motivated by a carrot rather than a stick, so singling them out for praise where deserved is a powerful motivator in any business.

In general terms, as long as the employee is made to feel valued, special and appreciated, they will feel motivated and inspired to do that little bit extra, well beyond their monetary worth, which can only benefit the establishment too.




As a consultant how do you deal with rejection from a client?

 

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There really is no such thing as 'rejection'. If you provide a service, you are bound to be in competition with others in a free market. The client has simply exercised their choice. It is easy to interpret that right as a 'rejection' because no one likes to miss out on a valuable opportunity for some income and exercising one's skills. Unless we expect every client to accept our services, which is not possible, then we have to be prepared for both acceptance and rejection. It's called balance, and that balance is at the heart of Nature - pain and pleasure, up and down, light and dark etc. 

It's a lack of confidence and fear of failure why we are afraid of rejection. Yet we have interpreted that emotional decline as the more emotive 'rejection' simply because of that fear. As long as we educate ourselves to the fact that we will be accepted by some clients who believe we can effectively work with them to achieve their objectives, we will also appreciate that we are better off not getting some jobs because they are probably not suitable for our skills and might even damage our reputation, especially if the service offered does not deliver as expected.

Rejection shouldn't 'sting', because the client is merely exercising their choice. Such rejections hurt because of inadequate belief in one's own efficacy and the emotional attachment to every opportunity that presents itself. As long as one has done all that one can do to engage that client, if there isn't a fit, just learn from the experience, and move on to the next with more enthusiasm and resolve than ever. 

However, if one is going to wallow in any rejection, and label one's self as a failure, one is likely to appear as a loser to everyone else after that, because we tend to give off negative vibes when we focus on rejection! The mark of a true professional is to take whatever comes at us and use the experience for the future, not to expect everything to go exactly as envisaged. Only self belief, confidence and detachment will give us what we expect while preparing us for the inevitable knock-backs that will improve our resilience.






Four Lessons for Management From The Chilean Miners Rescue

 

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Thursday August 5, 2010, was a quiet day for me (I felt very listless and didn't even write an article), until I heard of the collapsed mine in Chile with 33 miners trapped in it. Thirteen agonising days followed as we all watched, fretted and worried. By the 14th day of their incarceration I had almost given up hope that the miners would still be alive. But the eerie silence over those days kept a flicker of hope going as I reminded myself that no news was often good news! The 17th day which brought the famous note from the miners that they were alive was indescribable.

Sixty-nine days of anguish later, despite the time difference in the UK, thanks to the wonderful Internet, I was able to share in the amazing rescue of the miners as they emerged to the surface, one by painstaking one, being slowly winched up to safety and the bosom of their families, and it was a most moving, inspiring and awesome few hours. A salute to the ingenuity, determination, fearlessness and the power of a united mankind.

After the 28th rescue, I fell asleep from sheer tension and exhaustion of the day, but suddenly woke up, without knowing why, nearly three hours later to see the last miner being rescued, my all-time hero, Luiz Urzua, the miners' foreman. The feeling was indescribable. I decided to stay up and watch the rescuers return to the surface and it was a very eerie and impatient feeling waiting to see the last rescuer, Manuel Gonzalez, finally climb into the Fenix-1 capsule. One could almost touch the silence and the tension and feel the loneliness as he waited - what seemed like endlessly - for his turn to arrive. As if echoing my unspoken thoughts of encouragement, Jaime Hernandez in Talca, Chile, tweeted: "Manuel Gonzalez, you are not alone. The whole country is watching you."

Indeed. So true. But he got the last part slightly wrong. It wasn't just Chile that was waiting impatiently with that rescuer, but people from across the globe who were mesmerised by the whole flawless endeavour. In those waiting, anxious moments four things leapt out at me from the whole tragedy.


1. How powerful we are when we come together

The Chilean drama brought together the talents and expertise of various agencies like NASA, the government, the technicians, organisers and the media in a truly amazing success story of collaboration and individual contribution. As one person commented, in response to the claims that a miracle was occurring: "The Chile mine rescue is not a miracle. It's a triumph of engineering and human endurance. The supernatural cheapens humanity's greatness."

Whatever the whole incident demonstrated, it really was a triumph of engineering, human endurance and, above all, faith in what is possible. Those miners did not give up, their families did not give up and the men who were charged with the task of rescuing them certainly did not give up. They could see possibilities and were impatient to try them out. And what an ending there was from such faith, expertise and ingenuity! The sheer professionalism of the rescue teams was remarkable.


2. What affects one of us affects us all

Very few people with any ounce of empathy could ignore what was happening in Chile all those days and weeks. The wonders of the Internet kept us engaged and committed to a good outcome, if only from a spiritual basis. This global faith, prayers and hopes ensured that news of their condition was followed avidly and was always a tweet away. We became part of those miners' lives without realising it, sharing their anguish, hopes and fears. The day of the rescue itself showed that, regardless of distance, we are all connected to each other far more than we are often prepared to appreciate.


3. The power of good leadership

Four heroic men stand out from that event with glowing honours: the tireless, indefatigable Laurence Golborne, the Mining minister who never slept in the two days of rescue, the ebullient and motivating president, Sebastian Pinera, the invisible technical director of the whole rescue operation, and the calm, unselfish, courageous and determined miners' leader, Luis Urzua. What a guy! He should be running for public office to utilise such awesome leadership skills. Watching this man speaking to the president at the end, I had no doubt that his presence and calm approach must have inspired those men to extend themselves on a daily basis.


4. The power of technology has come into its own

Last night, the true power of multimedia and drilling technology was revealed for all to see. Those who are fossils, stubbornly resisting change as they hang back there in the past, while they decry our onward march to technological competency, got a taste of what was possible from this unfolding tragedy. The internet came into its own to keep hopes alive while technological marvels were used every step of the way in rescuing the miners. We can never remain static. We have to keep moving, ever developing and evolving. That is our fate. The only thing we can do in the process is to make the changes work for us, and they certainly did with a vengeance in Chile to make a potential tragedy into the most inspiring success.

The Chilean miners tragedy, with the amazing, heartwarming ending, demonstrates beyond a doubt that we are not alone, that when we join forces we are simply formidable and that good leaders can make the difference, literally, between survival and death.